Folly la, la, la, la, la la la . . .
Vol: 147 Issue: 24 Tuesday, December 24, 2013
I discovered early on that I didn’t have the capacity for compromise necessary to become a politician. I tend to read things in black and white and I generally read ‘shades of gray’ as ‘degrees of compromise’.
“Compromise” is almost always seen by Christians as a bad thing, but in reality, ‘compromise’ is exactly what it describes — sometimes its bad, sometimes its good.
When compromise fits the dictionary definition of “an adjustment of opposing principles, systems, etc. by modifying some aspects of each; or, the result of such an adjustment” then compromise is folly.
One’s principles are, according to the same dictionary, “a fundamental, primary or general law or truth.” One cannot adjust one’s fundamental principles and manage to still have them.
Once one puts one’s principles on a sliding scale, the principle of gravity says things only slide in one direction.
Something is either fundamentally true, or it is fundamentally untrue. You can’t have it both ways without compromising reality. What is left is at best a facsimile of reality.
The other definition of compromise is ‘the midway point between two extremes’. In that sense, compromise is often necessary and sometimes to be desired.
I hold to the uncompromising principle that the Bible is literally true. That requires me to accept on faith Adam and Eve, Noah and an ark full of animals, Jonah being swallowed by a whale and emerging alive three days later, etc.
I don’t understand how they happened, but that doesn’t shake my faith in their being literally true.
I know that they are true because the same Bible that said they were true also prophesied the literal world events unfolding before this generation.
If I can trust my God to accurately and literally foretell the future, then I can certainly trust Him to accurately and literally relate the past. For me, that is a no-brainer.
Still, Noah’s Ark, Adam and Eve and Jonah and the whale are not necessarily the Scriptures I’d choose to defend against an equally saved believer’s argument for a symbolic interpretation.
The midway point between the two extremes is to accept that defending the literal truth of Jonah and the whale is both pointless and unnecessary and to follow Solomon’s advice.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him” (Proverbs 26:4)
Sometimes, the best compromise position is to agree to disagree agreeably. Not a compromise of principles so much as it is a recognition of reality. Someone else needn’t share my principles in order for my principles to be valid.
There is nothing that can bring one’s spirit down from its Christmas high like arguing over minor points of history or debating whether or not Jesus was born on December 25 or whether or not Christmas is a Christian holiday or whether Christians should have a tree.
You can’t win the argument. You can’t make Christmas a ‘Christian’ holiday — it is at best a holiday first celebrated by pagan cultures and later adopted by Christians.
In ancient Roman culture, it was the Feast of Saturnalia. In ancient Babylonian culture, it was the Feast of Tammuz. In ancient Iranian culture December 25th was the birthday of Mithras. In ancient Hindu culture, the winter solstic marked the feat of Sankranti.
None of this in any way makes Jesus any less the Reason for the Season — for me. I am a Christian, which makes it a Christian holiday — to me.
But I also recognize the obvious truth that one need not be a Christian to celebrate Christmas. Lots of unbelievers love Christmas. It is also possible to celebrate Christmas without ever once reflecting on the birth of Jesus.
(Just turn on your TV this Christmas and see how many programs celebrating Christmas that you can find that manage to avoid making any mention of ‘Christ.’)
I love our Christmas traditions. It doesn’t matter to me whether it is actually Jesus’ birthday — it is a day that calls to my mind the fact that “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son.”
It is a day that provides opportunities to witness to the importance of that fact to others like no other day on the Western calendar.
But it is still the day that kids (both young and old) wait for with eager anticipation for all the joy and merriment and family and presents and decorations and pastries and turkey and all the trimmings — and all the other stuff about Christmas that has NOTHING to do with the birth of our Lord.
Among believers, there are those who mark Christmas as a day of solemn worship and those who believe Christmas is an entirely pagan tradition and want nothing to do with it. I find no compromise in taking the midway point between the two extremes.
Enjoy all that the season has to offer. Reflect on the Greatest Christmas Gift of all — and do your best to reflect the love it represents.
I pray each of you are blessed by family and friends and fun and freedom and peace.
Have a very Merry Christmas.
Note: Jack’s message today reminds us that during this time of year we need to heed Matthew 5:16 with those we will be celebrating with. But as Wendy Wippel’s column, “Oh Holy Night” points out we should not be deceived by the progressive, emergent “thinkers” who’s intention is to strip John 3:16 of the saving power of the prophesied event that literally changed the world.